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J.J. Abrams says it would've been "smarter" to reveal Khan up-front for Star Trek sequel

Dec. 2, 2013by: Paul Shirey

While promoting his new book, S., co-authored by Doug Dorst, director J.J. Abrams commented on the controversial villain of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS and expressed regret in keeping his identity a secret until the film's premiere. Khan, as portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film, was a reimagined version of the same character from STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, and was kept hush-hush throughout the marketing of the film in the name of maintaining surprise. Or so we thought. Abrams' reveals that there was a little more to it and says he wishes it would've happened differently.

"The truth is I think it probably would have been smarter just to say upfront 'This is who it is.' It was only trying to preserve the fun of it, and it might have given more time to acclimate and accept that's what the thing was. The truth is because it was so important to the studio that we not angle this thing for existing fans. If we said it was Khan, it would feel like you've really got to know what 'Star Trek' is about to see this movie. That would have been limiting. I can understand their argument to try to keep that quiet, but I do wonder if it would have seemed a little bit less like an attempt at deception if we had just come out with it."

So, it sounds like some studio pressure to make the film more "commercial" and open for a wider audience, rather than a niche one, played a part. From a business standpoint that makes some sense, but ultimately I think it backfired, mostly because everyone was so insistent that it wasn't Khan during the promotional push, instead saying that it was his alias, John Harrison. I think a clever wink would've worked wonders instead of blatant deception, but that's just me. Either way, I enjoyed STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, regardless of the Khan "secret."

Abrams briefly commented on the next STAR TREK film, particularly on whether or not Joe Cornish (ATTACK THE BLOCK) was on board to direct or not. "I don't know if Joe Cornish is the guy. My guess is that's up in the air. I adore him and love him and can't wait to see what he does next."

Well, at least he's not trying to deceive us, right?

Abrams is curently jumping into another Star-verse with STAR WARS: EPISODE VII, slated for release on December 18, 2015, while STAR TREK 3 is still in the very early stages. More to follow on that.

Extra Tidbit: Did the Khan "secret" ruin the film for you?
Source: MTV

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10:27AM on 12/03/2013
Loved this movie. People need to stop complaining about everything.
Loved this movie. People need to stop complaining about everything.
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10:58PM on 12/02/2013
I wish fans would stop bitching about them using Kahn. Kahn is Kirk's Joker/Luthor/etc, I wouldve been pissed if he wasnt in the alternate timeline. And I felt the influence of Space Seed more than Wrath
I wish fans would stop bitching about them using Kahn. Kahn is Kirk's Joker/Luthor/etc, I wouldve been pissed if he wasnt in the alternate timeline. And I felt the influence of Space Seed more than Wrath
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11:15PM on 12/02/2013
Yup, it was Space Seed, superhuman Khan and Cumberbatch totally killed it. I honestly enjoyed the film more than any other summer blockbuster this year.
Yup, it was Space Seed, superhuman Khan and Cumberbatch totally killed it. I honestly enjoyed the film more than any other summer blockbuster this year.
8:43PM on 12/02/2013
Loved the film; think we can just let this go.
Loved the film; think we can just let this go.
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5:00PM on 12/02/2013

Liar

So, in other words, he lied to the public so he could make more money on the movie. They had an entire universe of ideas to choose from, and they decide to do a half ass reboot/remake of the wrath of khan and lie about it to improve the box office. Not. Good.
So, in other words, he lied to the public so he could make more money on the movie. They had an entire universe of ideas to choose from, and they decide to do a half ass reboot/remake of the wrath of khan and lie about it to improve the box office. Not. Good.
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11:28AM on 12/03/2013
He may have lied but it still sounds like pressure from the studio.
He may have lied but it still sounds like pressure from the studio.
4:21PM on 12/02/2013
Star Trek Into Darkness was still a good film, but there is so much missed potential associated with it. Copying the best villain from the original series, as well as several plot points, made this feel more like a semi-remake of Star Trek 2 rather than it's own film. They should have just made John Harrison a villain with a similar story Khan or something.
Star Trek Into Darkness was still a good film, but there is so much missed potential associated with it. Copying the best villain from the original series, as well as several plot points, made this feel more like a semi-remake of Star Trek 2 rather than it's own film. They should have just made John Harrison a villain with a similar story Khan or something.
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3:47PM on 12/02/2013
Having no Khan what-so-ever would have been the better option. Now nu-Star Trek looks like a greatest hits album.

Since they used Khan in nu-Star Trek, his entire backstory doesn't make sense because they failed to update it. The original Khan was created before the 1990's, when Roddenberry hypothesized "eugenics" being the main cause for war. There was no eugenics war, therefore keeping Khan "300 year old eugenic military cyrobaby" didn't make sense.

I also agree with everything
Having no Khan what-so-ever would have been the better option. Now nu-Star Trek looks like a greatest hits album.

Since they used Khan in nu-Star Trek, his entire backstory doesn't make sense because they failed to update it. The original Khan was created before the 1990's, when Roddenberry hypothesized "eugenics" being the main cause for war. There was no eugenics war, therefore keeping Khan "300 year old eugenic military cyrobaby" didn't make sense.

I also agree with everything Joel_Kirk stated.

All opinions aside, I thought STID was entertaining.
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3:05PM on 12/02/2013

When was Cumberbatch as Khan a secret?

Who uses the word 'acclimate' in such a context?
Who uses the word 'acclimate' in such a context?
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+4
3:05PM on 12/02/2013

I think most people

Pretty much knew who he was going to be anyway. Good film, will miss Abrams on the next one but looking forward to him being involved in the other universe - just take it easy on the lens flares. Last thing I want to see is 3PO with lens flares shining off his dome.
Pretty much knew who he was going to be anyway. Good film, will miss Abrams on the next one but looking forward to him being involved in the other universe - just take it easy on the lens flares. Last thing I want to see is 3PO with lens flares shining off his dome.
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2:38PM on 12/02/2013
Since Abrams claimed that the slate will be wiped clean when the Trek reboot began, it would have been smarter to have Cumberbatch be an original character. Even if he was to remain as Khan, there should have been more character development to the character to make his reveal more 'powerful.' (Of course, they shouldn't have used 'Classic Spock' to do an exposition dump for the characters; that's just lazy writing there. We still didn't really know who Khan was).
Since Abrams claimed that the slate will be wiped clean when the Trek reboot began, it would have been smarter to have Cumberbatch be an original character. Even if he was to remain as Khan, there should have been more character development to the character to make his reveal more 'powerful.' (Of course, they shouldn't have used 'Classic Spock' to do an exposition dump for the characters; that's just lazy writing there. We still didn't really know who Khan was).
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2:26PM on 12/02/2013

The big "reveal" had already been spoiled

by the time I saw the film (take a bow, Hijinks Ensue) so it wasn't as big a deal as others made it out to be. I was disappointed that (a) they didn't use an Asian actor to play Khan Noonian Singh (what, Shaun Toub or Aasif Mandvi weren't available?) and the part was ultimately a waste of Benedict Cumberbatch's considerable talents.
by the time I saw the film (take a bow, Hijinks Ensue) so it wasn't as big a deal as others made it out to be. I was disappointed that (a) they didn't use an Asian actor to play Khan Noonian Singh (what, Shaun Toub or Aasif Mandvi weren't available?) and the part was ultimately a waste of Benedict Cumberbatch's considerable talents.
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3:01PM on 12/02/2013
are those guys any good? not heard of them
are those guys any good? not heard of them
2:17PM on 12/02/2013
The Khan reveal did not ruin the movie for me. The fact that it's a dumb, piece of shit is what ruined it for me. Add on to that, the 'reveal' and how insulting it was, that just makes me loathe it.
The Khan reveal did not ruin the movie for me. The fact that it's a dumb, piece of shit is what ruined it for me. Add on to that, the 'reveal' and how insulting it was, that just makes me loathe it.
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2:03PM on 12/02/2013
I applaud Abrams in trying to have a little secretcy with his films. When it was finally revealed in the film, I had no problem with it.
I applaud Abrams in trying to have a little secretcy with his films. When it was finally revealed in the film, I had no problem with it.
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1:42PM on 12/02/2013
Whats strange is that fans familiar with the series were fooled by Khan's reveal. I thought everyone, including myself knew that Cumberbatch was playing Khan before the movie was even released.
Whats strange is that fans familiar with the series were fooled by Khan's reveal. I thought everyone, including myself knew that Cumberbatch was playing Khan before the movie was even released.
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+5
1:40PM on 12/02/2013
I like Abrams as a director, but this doesn't sound right (even if it is) only because he's usually so secretive with his projects. It sucks if the studio used that against him.
I like Abrams as a director, but this doesn't sound right (even if it is) only because he's usually so secretive with his projects. It sucks if the studio used that against him.
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+11
1:35PM on 12/02/2013

You don't say?

Tricking fans into believing he was not Khan just to create an unnecessary sense of secrecy was a kick in the nuts when the "big" reveal finally happened although most people guessed early on Cumberbatch was playing him once Del Toro didn't take the role. The main regret Abrams should feel is creating a remake of Wrath of Khan instead of doing something new.
Tricking fans into believing he was not Khan just to create an unnecessary sense of secrecy was a kick in the nuts when the "big" reveal finally happened although most people guessed early on Cumberbatch was playing him once Del Toro didn't take the role. The main regret Abrams should feel is creating a remake of Wrath of Khan instead of doing something new.
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